John 14:12
Our Lord Jesus when on earth was during the whole of his ministry a Worker. He spoke of his works, and of his resolve to work the works of the Father. In the text there is no disparagement of these displays of power - power to teach, to heal, to rule, to conquer. They were works worthy of him who wrought them, and they answered the purposes for which they were intended. They were not only advantageous and beneficent to men; they were a witness to Christ's claims, for he himself made the well-founded appeal, "Believe me for the works' sake." Yet in this passage our Lord affirms the superiority of the works of his disciples to his own.

I. AN UNEXPECTED AND WONDERFUL SUPERIORITY. The master may naturally be expected to excel the servant, the teacher to excel the scholar, the leader to excel the follower. The reverse, however, was designed in the Christian dispensation. This very marvelous arrangement is to our mind a proof of the Lord's confidence in himself, and in the certainty of his expectations regarding the future of his cause. This is one of those many and instructive instances in which God's ways are not as our ways.

II. A REASONABLE SUPERIORITY. Below the superficial difficulty just mentioned there is a deep-rooted reasonableness in this arrangement. As explained in the text the conditions of this superiority are twofold.

1. They who do the greater works are believers on Christ. Faith is ever the inner power of works, both material and moral. It is the union with the Lord himself that makes his people strong to do the greater works; so that, in fact, they are not their works, but his, who works in and by his own faithful servants. Faith as a grain of mustard seed enables a disciple to remove mountains.

2. They who do the greater works are possessed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Lord himself assigns the reason: "Because I go unto the Father." The ascension of Christ secured the bestowal of the Spirit, and the influences of the Spirit enabled the richly endowed and blessed to do great marvels. "Strengthened with all might" by the Holy Spirit, they were made fit for the great enterprise committed to them. Feeble in themselves, they were strong in their Lord.

III. A PROVED SUPERIORITY. When Jesus uttered this assurance, it was received by those who heard it in faith, because they credited the Divine Speaker. But we have the evidence of the facts that followed the proclamation of the gospel, and of the facts of Christian history. By "greater works" we do not understand works more striking and marvelous in themselves, but more glorious in their effects upon human society and upon the progress of God's spiritual kingdom. The contrast between the signs and wonders recorded in the four Gospels and those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles is mainly in the spiritual results by which they were accompanied and followed. As their Lord foretold, the apostles received power to heal the sick, to expel demons, to raise the dead. They spake with tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews best explains these greater works, when he writes of the great salvation, that it "was confirmed unto us by them that heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will" Thus it was that the moral and spiritual changes, wrought by the agency of the apostles, were astounding to a mind capable of measuring and appreciating wonders of this kind. The works of this nature wrought by them were great indeed. Souls were awakened, taught, counseled, renewed, and saved. The few who were spiritually blessed by the ministry of Jesus were but the firstfruits of a great harvest reaped in the ministry of his apostles. A vast variety of classes was reached. Gentiles as well as Jews received the gospel; great centers of civilization were attacked by the aggressive, apostolic host. Complete change of character was effected in unnumbered instances by this consecrated and inspired agency. Social improvements followed in the train of Christian evangelization - ameliorations which were the earnest of the most amazing transformations which the world has witnessed. Fully to realize these "greater works," it is necessary to take a survey of the history of Christendom. The glimmering dawn has been followed by the glorious day.

IV. AN INSTRUCTIVE SUPERIORITY. These greater works which we witness, and in the production of which we are called upon to bear our part, have practical lessons of value for us in this spiritual dispensation.

1. They remind us of the dignity, power, and glory of the Savior. Promised by him, they are evidences alike of his faithfulness and of his power. He by his Spirit reveals his presence in his Church.

2. They impress upon us our own responsibility. The provision having been made for the continuance of these spiritual operations, Christ's people are called upon to prepare themselves to act as agents in the establishment and extension of his Church on earth. The possession of spiritual gifts ought not to minister to our pride; it should remind us of our dependence and of our duty.

3. They encourage us to cherish a bright and glorious hope. What works have yet to be wrought before the purpose of God is achieved, before the sufferings of Christ are rewarded, before the work of the Church is completed! - T.







He that believeth on Me the works that I do shall he do also.
I. ITS REALITY AND CERTAINTY. Vers. 13, 14 show that Christ regarded Himself as the worker and His followers only as His agents.

II. ITS ORGAN AND INSTRUMENT. Our Saviour's language —

1. Does not mean that He will work through no other way than the collective Church, which is His body, and the believer who is a member of it; because in point of fact He does, as the Governor of the universe which He summoned into being.

2. Nor that everything done by the Church or the believer is a manifestation of His activity. To maintain this would be to open a wide door to fanaticism.

3. It does signify, however, that Christ uses His Church collectively and individually to operate on the earth; and that not merely as His representative, but as His body, pervaded by His power and swayed by His will. His own works indicate His unity with the Father (ver. 11): the works of believers their unity with Himself (vers. 12, 20).

III. ITS NATURE AND EXTENT.

1. Its nature — "The same works," etc. This was fulfilled in the miracles of the disciples after Pentecost. But that they performed no works, except as they were employed by Christ is shown by the fact they wrought no miracle to cure their friends (Philippians 2:26, 27; 2 Timothy 4:20). They had no power to work indiscriminately.

2. Its extent. "Greater works" — not greater miracles, but such works as Peter's at Pentecost, and Paul's in his missionary journeys.

IV. ITS MODE AND CONDITION. If Christ is the prime worker and the believer the instrument, connection must be established between them.

1. Christ must be able to reach the believer. This He does by the impartation of the Spirit (vers. 16, 171.

2. The believer must be able to communicate with Christ. This he does by prayer (vers. 13, 14). Nothing could be —

(1)Simpler — it would be only needful that they should ask (Matthew 21:21, 22; Mark 11:23, 24).

(2)Ampler — all things should be done (Matthew 7:7; Matthew 18:19).

(3)Surer — Christ would Himself do what they asked.

(4)Freer — the only stipulation was that they should ask in Christ's name.Lessons —

1. The supreme divinity of Christ involved in all He here says about Himself.

2. The essential dignity of the Christian — a fellow worker with Christ.

3. The true doctrine of prayer — asking in the name of Christ.

4. The reason why miracles have ceased — the Holy Ghost does not consider them necessary.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

The keyword of this context is "Believe!" In three successive verses we find it, each time widening in its application — to the single disciple: "Philip!" to the whole group: and now, here, to whosoever believeth in Him. Our Lord has pointed to believing as the great antidote to a troubled heart, as the sure way of knowing the Father, as the better substitute for sight; and now here He opens before us still more wonderful prerogatives and effects. We have here —

I. THE CONTINUOUS WORK OF THE EXALTED LORD FOR AND THROUGH HIS SERVANTS. These disciples, of course, thought that the departure of Jesus would be the end of His activity. Henceforward whatever distress or need might come, that voice would be silent, and that hand motionless. Some of us know how dreary that makes life, and we can understand how these men shrank from the prospect. Christ's words tell them that in them He will work as well as for them, after He has departed.

1. Christ's removal from the world is not the end of His activity in the world. We are not to water down such words as these into the continuous influence of His memory. That is true, but over and above that, there is the present influence of His present work. One form of His work was "finished" on Calvary, but there is another work, which will not be ended until the angel voices shall chant "It is done, the kingdoms of the world are the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ." And therefore these disciples were not to be cast down as if His work for them were ended. It is clear, of course, that such words as these demand something perfectly unique in the nature of Christ. All other men's work is cut in twain by death. "This man, having served his generation by the will of God, was gathered to his fathers. And he (and his work) saw corruption." That is the epitaph over the greatest, the tenderest, and most helpful. But Christ is living today, and working all around us. Now, it is of the last importance, that we should give a very prominent place in our creeds, and hearts, to this great truth. What a joyful sense of companion. ship it brings to the solitary, what calmness of vision, in contemplating the complications and calamites of the world's history.

2. But not only for us, but on and in and therefore through us Christ is working. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," and through me, if I keep close to Him, will work mightily in forms that my poor manhood could never have reached. And now, mark that a still more solemn and mysterious aspect of this union of Jesus Christ and the believer. It is no accident that in one clause He says, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. The words that I speak unto you," etc.; and that in the next He says, "The works that I do shall He do also;" and so bids us see in that union between the Father and the Son, a pattern after which our union with Him is to be moulded, both as regards the closeness of its intimacy and as regards the resulting manifestations in life. All the doings of a Christian man holding by Christ, are Christ's doings, inasmuch as He is the Life and the Power which does them all. So let us curb all self-dependence and self-will that that mighty tide may flow into us; and let us cast from us all timidity, and be strong in the assurance that we have a Christ living in the heavens to work for us, and living within us to work through us.

II. THE GREATER WORK OF THE SERVANTS ON AND FOR WHOM THE LORD WORKS. Is, then, the servant greater than his Lord? Not so, for whatsoever the servant does is done because the Lord is with and in him. The contrast is between Christ's manifestations in the time of His earthly humiliation and His manifestations in the time of His glory. We need not be afraid that such words trench on the unapproachable character of the earthly work of Christ. This is finished. But the work of Revelation and Redemption required to be applied through the ages. The comparison is drawn, between the limited sphere and the small results of Christ's work upon earth, and the worldwide sweep and majestic magnitude of the results of the application of that work by His servants' witnessing work. And the poorest Christian who can go to a brother soul, and draw that soul to Christ, does a mightier thing than it was possible for the Master to do whilst He was here. For the Redemption had to be completed in act before it could be proclaimed in word, and Christ had no such weapon as we have when we can say, "We testify unto you that the Son of God hath died for our sins, and is raised again according to the Scriptures." "He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them," and at the end of His life there were 120 disciples in Jerusalem and 500 in Galilee. That was all that Jesus Christ had done, while today, the world is being leavened, and the kingdoms of the earth are beginning to recognize His name.

III. THE CONDITIONS ON WHICH THE EXALTED LORD WORKS FOR AND ON HIS SERVANTS.

1. Faith, the simple act of loving trust in Jesus Christ, opens the door for the entrance of all His solemn Omnipotence, and makes us possessors of it. So if Christian individuals and communities are impotent, there is no difficulty in understanding why. They have cut the connection, they have shut the tap.

2. Prayer.(1) Our power depends upon our prayer, Not God's and Christ's fulness and willingness to communicate, but our capacity to receive of that fulness, and so the possibility of its communication to us, depend upon our prayer. "We have not because we ask not."(2) The power of our prayer depends upon our conscious oneness with the revealed Christ. Christ's name is the revelation of Christ's character; and to do a thing in the name of another person is to do it as His representative, and as realizing that in some deep and real sense — for the present purpose, at all events — we are one with Him. Prayer in the name of Christ is hard to offer. It needs much discipline and watchfulness; it excludes all self-will and selfishness. And if, as my text tells us, the end of the Son's working is the glory of the Father, that same end, and not our own ease or comfort, must be the end and object of all prayer which is offered in His name. When we so pray we get an answer. And the reason why such multitudes of prayers never travel higher than the roof, and bring no blessings to him that prays, is because they are not prayers in Christ's name.(3) Prayer in His name will pass into prayer to Him. As He not obscurely teaches us here, if we adopt the reading, "If ye shall ask Me," He has an ear to hear such requests, and He wields Divine power to answer.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE BLESSINGS WHICH THIS PROMISE CONTAINS OR CONVEYS?

1. Ability to work. Professing Christians of a certain school speak scornfully of this "to do," but this is to despise the words and things of God. He who redeems us works in us to will and "to do."

2. Power to do good and to serve others. This was and is the great feature of Christ's character.

3. Power to work as Jesus Christ wrought. There is an evident limitation here. Miracles cannot be perpetual; but if the working of miracles were at all desirable now, the power would be again given. Atonement for sin is another work which we cannot imitate. Still there is a path of work in which we may follow our Saviour. The blessing promised is —

4. The power to work superior work. "The greater" here may, perhaps, point to more extensive service, but we think the word rather points to nobler and to higher service. Now, it is greater, to enlighten the mind than to open blind eyes; to create faith than to unstop deaf ears; to awaken praise than to loosen dumb tongues; to purify from sin than to cleanse from leprosy; to quicken the dead soul than it is to raise the corporeally dead.

5. Not an extraordinary blessing, but one that is the common heritage of all who believe. Great injury has been done to the Church, and to many not in the Church, by the fuss which is made about any man or woman who happens to try to be useful, So much is made of the mere human worker, as that He who works in, and by us all, becomes completely concealed. Now there are many persons who seem to think that admiring those who do Christian work a very blessed substitute for doing that work. We require in our churches less said about what is done, in order to begin to do more. It is thus too about giving. Men who give a little expect so much notice taken of that little, that their hands are closed by the mischievous power of that very expectation.

II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH THE FULFILMENT OF THIS PROMISE IS SECURED. "Because I go unto My Father." The Father is everywhere; but He is not in all places equally manifest. Where the manifestation of the Father is perfect, Jesus Christ now is. There He is seated on the throne of His Father.

1. With the Father, Jesus is absent from this earth, and —(1) His disciples are here as His representatives. Now, what would Christ have been doing on this earth were He here? He went about doing good. Perhaps some of you would be extremely surprised to find the eyes from which you have wiped away tears; or the mind to which you have given one religious idea; or the feet that you have turned from the path of iniquity into the path of redemption.(2) He has received gifts for men, and is able from His throne to endow His disciples with all power.(3) The providence of Jesus Christ is over the working of His disciples. I do not say that His providence prevents some wretched hand laying hold of portions of your work, and disturbing it, but I say that it secures a good general result. And you will work with much more courage if you feel this.

2. There is a close connection between believing on Christ and Christ-like work. Believing qualifies for it and impels to it.

3. This Christ-like work is a privilege and a blessing to the man who performs it.

4. Moreover, the Christian disciple has the highest power, and the largest resources, and the noblest motives in the direction of doing good. If a Christian cannot render service in this world of sin and sorrow, who can? Some of you will say, that Christians are not generally wealthy, and not generally in high social positions. Put your finger upon a passage in the New Testament that teaches you that these two things are essential to doing good, or that good is often done where these two things exist. One reason why many of our evangelistic operations are so blasted is to be found in this fact, that those who conduct our societies go hunting for what they call patronage. Patronage for the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ! One's very heart is sick sometimes over this human patronage of Divine things.

5. Those who look for Christ's coming again speedily, seem to think that that will bring an increase of the working power. We believe that all the power that Christians want now may be obtained now. Our tendency is continually to say that "the time has not come," and we must wait for a larger outpouring of the Spirit? Is not the Spirit here? Will the Spirit ever be here more than He is now?

6. Do your work. I say it because some among you are spending your time in idleness.

(S. Martin.)

I. THE WORKS IN WHICH CHRIST AND THE BELIEVER HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON.

1. In His greatest work of course Christ stands alone. He came to work out and bring in an everlasting righteousness; to be the embodiment of a perfect obedience. Further, He came to die as an atonement for sin, and to rise and ascend and plead its merits in heaven. In neither of these can the believer have any part. "I have trodden the wine press alone." "Mine own arm hath wrought salvation." And yet in the ministrations of truth, in the exemplifications of goodness, and in the triumphs of mercy in which that sacrifice shall demonstrate its power, and that righteousness find its embodiment, all believing souls are invited to take their share.

2. The apostles were endowed with the power of working miracles. In this sense the doing of the works of Christ was confined to them. But Christ's miracles and theirs while real, and not to be spiritualized away, were physical types of spiritual. As bodily misery pointed out the misery of the soul, so healing symbolized salvation.

II. THE WORKS IN WHICH RELIEVERS, IN SOME SORT, SHALL EXCEL. To apprehend this, look at —

1. The results of our Lord's personal ministry. That cannot be regarded as unsuccessful. No doubt much of His teaching ripened after the rain of Pentecost, and those impressed before became converted afterwards. But during those three years how many benighted minds must have received light and foul hearts cleansing! Yet — as far as visible results now — how few even amongst the disciples, and of what a quality!

2. The results of the ministry of the Church. These great works are the burden of the Acts of the Apostles. How soon in the place where they murdered Christ were thousands won to His cause? Then the work spread to Samaria. Then the representative of far off Ethiopia was converted: then Cornelius the representative of Rome, and so on under the Apostles and their successors the tidal waves flowed on, until in the course of three centuries Christianity had overflown the world. Better still the nature of the results produced. The world was then at its very worst. At Thessalonica you have only a representation of what was universal. Men swallowed up in idolatry, but "the Word came with the demonstration of the Spirit," etc. In Corinth philosophy was rampant on the one hand and vice on the other, but then people were "washed, sanctified," etc. And thus from that time to this the gracious words have been fulfilled.

III. THE GROUND OF THIS. "Because I go," etc.

1. Christ went from them, but for them. It was not His departure simply, but what followed upon it — the gift of the Comforter, the burden of this discourse. Christ's departure was expedient —(1) In regard to their character, that they who had been so worldly, ignorant, and timid, might become spiritual, enlightened, and heroic.(2) In relation to their work.

2. Christ went from them yet remained with them. This enigmatical form of speech occurs often. "I go away." "Lo, I am with you alway." Our Lord would not leave them to the miseries of defeat or to the calamity of self-sufficiency. He therefore resolved to abide with them, and by His Spirit to be in them, their energy, courage, wisdom, sanctifying power.

3. All this is guaranteed to us.

IV. THE RESPONSIBILITY THIS INVOLVES. "If ye shall ask anything in My name," etc. You will prove your faith that you are Mine, and that I am with you, only as you, by grace work out these results.

(J. Aldis.)

This is one of the reasons why the disciples, whom Christ was about to leave, were "not to let their hearts be troubled." The discipleship to which He had called them was a very arduous one, but so long as He was with them, performing such miracles, they were safe. They would therefore think with dismay of His going away, inasmuch as this marvellous miracle working would cease, and they would be left to the merciless Pharisees. It was, then, fitting to tell them that they should do the miraculous works and greater things. The way in which our Lord speaks about miracles is striking. Had these narratives been a fiction, Christ would have spoken of miracles very differently. So far from magnifying them, He speaks of them as inferior things. Both Christ and His apostles appealed to men in two ways. Such as were unspiritual were appealed to by miracle; but He often told them that it was a higher and more spiritual thing to believe Him for His truth's sake than for His works' sake. So He tells His disciples here they should have power to work miracles, so far as this was needed to convince the unspiritual world; but they should have a greater power, viz., to do spiritual works in the conversion and sanctification of men. This is Christ's meaning.(1) Because He connected it with the gift of the Holy Spirit, whose work is to convince men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment.(2) From the very nature of the case: no one can doubt that moral goodness is greater than miraculous works.

I. THE HISTORY OF THE APOSTLES ABUNDANTLY FULFILS THIS PROMISE. Depending upon His power, that is, "believing on Him," they did the miraculous works.

1. Christ does not mean that these were greater than His own; no miracles may be compared with His.(1) His were always wrought in His own name, and by His own power; those of the apostles always in the name and by the power of their Master.(2) His were always full of great spiritual significance. Nature was moulded by Him into evangelical sermons.

2. But their spiritual achievements were to be greater than Christ's miracles.(1) The conversion of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost was a greater miracle than the feeding of five thousand in the wilderness; the conversion of a single soul is greater than the hushing of the storm. In the charge Christ gave to the seventy He makes the same distinction between the miraculous and the moral. He gave them power to heal the sick and to east out devils. The exercise of this power seems greatly to have elated them. He instantly turns their thoughts to spiritual things.(2) It is a common, perhaps a correct impression, that the personal ministry of our Lord did not produce such great spiritual results as that of the apostles. The Holy Ghost was not yet given. We have no records of two and of five thousand converts at a time. The largest intimation of the spiritual results of His ministry is that after His resurrection He was "seen of above five hundred brethren at once." And yet what preaching was ever like His preaching, in spiritual character, and depth, and earnestness? "Never man spake like this Man." And yet the Jews listened to His preaching and remained unconverted. Was it that Peter had a greater truth to proclaim than even Christ taught? Was it that. no preaching can be powerful to save men's souls but the preaching of the Cross? Christ predicted His death, and spake of its atoning character, but He did not preach it to the people: the apostles "preached Jesus and the resurrection"; and even in their comparatively rude and unskilful hands it proved more powerful in subduing men than Christ's Divine words. His own great prediction was fulfilled — "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

II. OUR LORD INTIMATES A GREAT AND IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE IN THE SERVICE OF HUMAN LIFE — that grace is greater than gifts; that the ministry of moral truths and influences is greater than the exercise of the most brilliant talents. It is a great work to perform a miracle; but the credentials of a messenger are not so great as his message. It is an honour to be so employed and attested, but this is in order to the accomplishment of the mission. In Christ Himself miracles were the lowest manifestations of His glory. They showed that God was with Him; but His true glory was in His own character, and mission, and words. So it was with the apostles. Paul's shaking the viper off his hand is but a small thing compared with his sacrifice of his honours and emoluments for Christ's sake. Peter's healing of the lame man is but a small thing compared with the conversion of three thousand on the day of Pentecost. The moral sense of all men confesses this. There is constant danger lest we be led away by brilliancy, crowds, outward successes, intellectual miracles. Ministers sometimes so mistake, and others so mistake them. A man is lost as a minister of Christ who thinks about popularity or sets himself to seek it. The humble, obscure man is often greater than the prominent and brilliant one; he has greater aims, secures nobler things, bears a nobler character.

1. Conversion is greater than miracle —(1) In its sphere of operation. Miracle operates in the outer and physical world. Regeneration operates in the inner and moral world, amongst the passions and purposes of the soul.(2) In the power that is put forth. In miracle God's simple fiat is absolute; He commands the laws of nature — they instantly obey; but in regeneration God's will encounters another will — a will that He has made free and powerful, and that He will not coerce. Nature never resisted Christ's Word; the men of Jerusalem would not come to Him that they might have life. To convert a human soul, therefore, is infinitely greater than to create a planet: moral forces have to be used; it needs to be made willing, and this demands no less an agency than the Incarnation and the Cross.(3) In its results. Miracles have fed the hungry, etc.; but conversion changes moral character, makes its subject a saint, and when he dies it secures his life with God in heaven.

2. Charity is greater than miracle (1 Corinthians 13). Moral excellencies have in them the quality of permanence; Christ's miraculous acts have ceased. His love moved His power, which was miraculous; our love moves our power, which is not miraculous: the feeling and motive are the same, only the power and the form of the action differ. Christ's disciples perpetuate His pitying love — they visit the sick, they relieve the poor, etc. And this is far grander than miracle: the aggregate benevolence of the Church of Christ is a nobler thing than the creation of a new world would be.

3. Patient submission to God's will is greater than miracle. What can be nobler than a life wholly consecrated to God and to whatever is holy and benevolent? as life of self-sacrificing service in the Church, the school, or the mission field — a life that surrenders its dearest joys and interests for Christ's sake? Perhaps the only nobler thing is, when devoted service is crowned by patient suffering.

4. Victory over death is greater than miracle.

(H. Allon, D. D.)

It is a common thought and remark with us, that the child and the day labourer now use forces and truths, and do works, without esteeming it unusual, which the earlier ages of science and thought, the ages of Copernicus and Columbus, were dimly and laboriously guessing and imagining and hoping. Those early masters laid down theories and principles, and they were ridiculed if not persecuted, misrepresented if not denied, obstructed if not stopped and interdicted. Their work was immense, greater than the work of their successors. It was the massive foundation. But their successors stand on a vantage ground. Slowly those beneficent theories have won acknowledgment. They had enlarged their sphere and field and power of operation. Their activity has increased till nothing now impedes. The noble originators have mounted into universal recognition. And their children daily develop the power which they made possible; make new applications as new exigencies arise and new fields open. Their successors and disciples do the same works in one sense, for it is the continuation of the same principle in activity: or, in one sense they do a lesser work, for it is less to continue than to originate. But in another sense they do "greater works," for their activity is daily widening, daily less impeded, daily more and more encouraged by more auspicious surroundings. And yet they are not greater than the early originator, who cannot show the "greater works" which come so properly and naturally to them. They follow him. Yet they go beyond him. Nay, stranger still, they go beyond him only because they follow him, and are the disciples of and the believers in his first great underlying work. Apply this illustration to Christ and His disciples. True, His was the great spiritual, all-supporting work. The great problem was finished and enunciated at the Cross. It received its seal at the Easter. And yet the field of the Lord's activity during His own earthly life was contracted to the smallest limits. He could not go beyond Judaea. His spiritual work found no spiritual surrounding, found no spiritual response, left no spiritual fruit (John 1:5, 11; Mark 6:5). These were the judgments of His contemporaries upon Him (Matthew 13:55; Mark 3:22; John 9:29; John 7:47, 48). Stop the world after Christ's ascension, and ask it how it had been the better for Christ's living, and it would have nothing to show you. It would know of nothing done, but a few that were blind, now seeing, a few that were deaf, hearing, a few lepers cleansed, a few inanimates restored. And a single generation would have removed even these. Struggling as man in the world of men: bearing sin in the world of sin, Christ laid indeed the massive foundation of a world's redemption; but it was a work wholly wrought out in and by Himself. None other knew of it. It hardly left any outward impression upon men and their lives. And what it did leave was vague, and easily lost. But at the Ascension a change begins. He goes to the Father. He is no more a mere single labourer, working out a great work among men; sufficient to do all, and doing all by Himself; but He has mounted to the seat of His power. And the Spirit of His power goes forth to create outward impressions upon men, to carry His work to others. In the first day of Peter's preaching three thousand are converted; vastly more than Christ ever influenced; greater works than Christ's, because He has gone to the Father. His successors and followers stood on a vantage ground of work. Their great, earlier Master had mounted into universal power. He was no longer compelled simply to suffer and submit as in the garden; but was omnipresent and omnipotent by His Spirit. And daily His Spirit makes new advances possible for them, which were not possible for Him when dwelling in the flesh.

(Fred. Brooks.)

What were the works that Jesus did? What was their very essence? We must look a little beneath the surface. Some minds are apt to confine their attention to the surface results of our Saviour's wonderful course. They think of the leaping of the lame, the seeing of the blind, the hearing of the deaf, the speaking of the dumb, the rising of the dead, the conscious strength of the paralytic, and the emancipation of the demoniac. It is befitting to think of these things. Our Saviour wished them to be considered. They were as a voice from the excellent glory and drew attention to the fact that a gracious Divine Person was at work among men. And yet, comparatively speaking, they were but a voice drawing attention to something else. They pointed to something that was really higher and greater than themselves. It is good indeed that the lame should leap; but surely there is something better even for the lame. What if after leaping they hasten away to the haunts of dissipation! Of what very great benefit will their leaping be to them? It is true, too, that it is good for the blind to see, and to see clearly. But what if, after the first transports consequent on the restoration of vision, the eyes neither read the glory of God in the heavens, nor the glory of His grace on the pages of revelation? What if they lower with passion, or look out for opportunities of alluring the unwary to their destruction? There are surely better things still than mere seeing, hearing, speaking. Even life from the dead, if merely physical, is not the highest conceivable blessing. A new lease of life, if it turn, as may too often be the case, to be a lease misspent, is not the greatest possible benefit which can be conferred upon an immortal man. Neither is deliverance from demoniac torture and oppression the most glorious emancipation of which we can conceive. Surely, then, there was scope for the apostles doing even greater works than our Saviour performed when He scattered miracles of power all along the pathway of His terrestrial career. There was scope for those greater works, because the Saviour was resolved to go on, and yet further on, till He went up to His Father. Had He faltered in this resolution, had He shrunk when the crisis became imminent, had He refused to suffer and to die as an atoning Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, then, not only would there have been no provision in Divine moral government for a repetition, or continuance, of such miracles of power, as were also miracles of mercy, but the door would have been actually closed upon hope in reference to deliverance from spiritual lameness, blindness, deafness, dumbness, paralysis, and death, and from all the spiritual demons of dis. cord, and passion, and hate, and intemperance, and licentiousness, that are making demoniacs of myriads, and that would be in danger but for Christianity of making demoniacs of us all. Our Lord did not, however, repent of His high resolve. He did not draw back from the completion of His enterprise when the difficulty was at its climax, and the hosts of darkness had gathered around Him in their serried and most formidable array. Oh, no! He strode on to victory. And it was in view of that victory, and of its mighty moral influence in the Divine government, that He promised that all the blessings which He had conferred on individuals during the brief period of His own personal and preliminary ministry, should be but the precursory drops as compared with the plenteous rain that would by and by descend and refresh, not the laud of Palestine alone, but all the dry and thirsty lands on the face of the earth. The Saviour looked far and wide from His elevated standpoint and saw, as the consequent of His triumphal ascent to His Father, the overthrow of Phariseeism and Sadduceeism. That was a very great work. He looked further and saw the overthrow of Roman and Grecian and Scythian idolatry. What great works were these! He looked further and saw the destruction of slavery through the influence of His gospel of love as preached by His disciples. He saw too the gradual emancipation of the masses from the tyranny of tyrants, and their elevation into political and social privileges. He saw, besides, the erection of hospitals and other institutions of benevolence wherever His Cross should be planted fast and firm. He saw the establishment on the one hand of home missions descending to the hundreds of thousands who have lapsed, and the establishment, on the other, of foreign missions sending the gospel of His grace to the ends of the earth in hundreds of tongues. What wonder that He spoke of "greater works" than He Himself had performed on a few impotent folk round about the Sea of Galilee, and in a few other insignificant places within the narrow radius of the Holy Land? And then He looked still further forward, and saw His Church everywhere purified after it had passed through fiery trials. He saw, in that future, that just because He was about to go up to His Father, all demonism would be vanquished, all diseases would be healed; men and women everywhere would see right, and hear right, and speak right, and act right. He saw, as the grand conclusion of His enterprise, that men everywhere would be a brotherhood of love, no one acting selfishly, but each ministering benevolently to all around.

(James Morison, D. D.)

I. THE WORK OF CHRIST IN THE KINGDOM OF NATURE, CARRIED ON THROUGH HIS DISCIPLES.

1. The use of miraculous powers. Miracles were the credentials of Christ's Messiahship. The words of the Saviour ought to have brought the world in homage to His feet. But seeing that men are held in bondage to sense He condescended to this weakness, and substantiated His preternatural knowledge by the exercise of preternatural power. When He added to His words this sign manual of Heaven, then numbers like Nicodemus said, "No man can do these miracles," etc.

2. Their present disuse. They were only for the commencement of our religion. The pillar of a cloud and fire was God's miraculous ratification of the authority of the Hebrew legislator. But that pillar was not a permanent gift. The Jews were trained to higher spiritual manifestations of the Divine presence, and then the cloud retired into the holy place and was seen no more. So the miracles of Christ and His apostles were the leading strings in which the infant Church was tenderly led until her inherent strength was developed, and she was enabled to walk alone in her spiritual might. The miracles in nature waned as the miracles of grace waxed, and the transforming influence of the gospel on the heart and life of a believer was left to be the world's standing sign and proof that it was the power and the wisdom of God.

II. THE GREATER WORK OF CHRIST IN THE KINGDOM OF GRACE. The conversion of the soul is a greater work, because —

1. It is wrought upon a greater object. Miracles were wrought upon material things; but conversion is wrought upon the soul. Who can calculate the vast superiority of spirit over matter? The soul allies us with Deity, for God is a spirit. It is the breath of the Almighty: matter is the rough clay in His hands. Hence the most degraded human being can say to the sun, "I am greater than thou!"

2. It demands more and greater attributes to effect it. Miracles were in the main displays of power. But in the conversion of our soul all the attributes of Jehovah are brought into play. Infinite wisdom must solve the problem, how the condemned can be pardoned, the lost saved, and the law honoured. Infinite power must work out the plan which wisdom has devised, and unite the Godhead and humanity in the person of Immanuel. Infinite love must be manifested in the undertaking of such an amazing work.

3. It encounters greater difficulties. It was easier to make a world than remake a fallen soul. In miracles of nature there was nothing to resist the Divine will. But in the restoration of the soul difficulties on all sides were encountered. Divine justice and truth stood in the way. All the powers of darkness were marshalled against it. The soul opposes its own conversion. It required four thousand years to prepare for the coming of Christ, and after His coming His thirty-three years of humiliation, privation, and toil. It still requires the striving of the Spirit on earth, the unwearied intercession of Jesus above, and the process of earthly discipline before one soul can be brought to glory.

4. It secures a greater good. Even the miracles of Jesus secured only a temporal good, though they aimed at awaking desires after spiritual benefits. But conversion is man's highest good, securing the richest blessings.

5. It has a greater duration. A change of heart has imperishable results. Where are the few whom Jesus summoned from the grave? To the grave they were summoned again. Where is the crowd from whom disease fled? The forces of human affliction returned, and brought death as their leader. Where are those miraculously fed They hungered again.

III. THE ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATION FOR THIS WORK. "He that believeth." One of the most prominent features in our Lord's teaching is the importance attached to faith. With respect to outward miracles, none of His disciples could perform them, none of the multitude could enjoy them without faith. If confidence in Christ was so essential in outward miracles, much more is it essential —

1. In the reception of the great miracle of grace.

2. To its instrumental accomplishment. The conversion of the world is entrusted to the Church as the instrument by which the Spirit effects this spiritual change. "He that believeth," whosoever he may be, may aspire to this surpassing honour. There are three truths which should be deeply graven on our hearts.(1) Faith in the adaptation of the gospel to meet the wants of men of every class and in every age.(2) Faith in the fact that none are excluded from a participation in its saving blessings except through their own unbelief.(3) Universal reliance or dependence on the Spirit of Christ in every work of faith and labour of love. If we put our faith in the splendour of our sanctuaries, the talent of our ministers, the respectability of our churches, the machinery of our religious societies, the purity of our creed, we are trusting to a broken reed.

IV. THE SOURCE OF ALL SUCCESS IN THIS WORK. The outpouring of the Spirit resulting from the exaltation of Jesus. "For if I go not away, the Comforter," etc.

1. Our inward state requires this. To suppose a spiritual change without the Spirit is to suppose not only an effect without a cause, but an effect contrary to all causes.

2. Our outward state requires it. How can we conquer a hostile world, except by that Spirit who makes His strength perfect in our weakness?

3. Spiritual agency of a corrupting and deadly character shows our need of it. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord."Conclusion: Learn —

1. The Divinity of Christ Jesus. Man, however gifted, is never able to impart at his will, his power to another. Napoleon could not bestow as a legacy on his faithful adherents his own genius. Christ says, "The works that I do shall ye do also."

2. The honour and dignity of all believers. A greater miracle has been wrought on them than on the body of Lazarus.

3. The ennobling character of Christian work.

4. The lamentable condition of every unbeliever.

(R. Best.)

I. The text presents us with a PARALLEL. Christ teaches that there shall be a relation of likeness or identity between His own personal works and the works carried on by believing disciples after His departure. "He that believeth on Me, the works that I do, shall he do also." The terms in which Christ describes His own supernatural works are remarkable and suggestive. He scarcely ever speaks of them as miracles. He nearly always uses the quiet, unostentatious phrase employed in the text — "works." The mere triumph over physical law seems to be forgotten, and there is a godlike unconsciousness of that which is extraordinary to us. The term is suggestive of calm power. These things are not miracles to Him, they were miracles only to the beholder. The word too is one that links His achievements with the achievements of the future Church. It expressed only that which should be common between the two. The miraculous element, in the popular sense of that word, was not the most conspicuous feature in the works. Christ's thought would seem to have been fixed upon those elements in the works that embodied living relations. The eye of the child is caught by the glare of colour in the picture, and a little Red Riding Hood from an illustrated paper will fascinate it just as much as a Holy Family by Titian. The eye of the artist is riveted by the form and composition and delicate suggestion and sentiment with which the canvas has been made to speak. The first living relation in Christ's works was with the Father. They were a continuous testimony of the Father to the Son before the world. "The Father worketh hitherto, and I work." "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." The second living relation embodied in Christ's works was with the Holy Spirit. Now these are the essential elements in Christ's works, and the power of accomplishing such works is given just as much to us as to Jesus Christ. Through all the life of a man who believes in Jesus Christ the Father directly testifies concerning His Son. Whilst the man retains a loyal, believing relation to his great Head, the Holy Ghost is the sovereign guide of all his activity, and his works are as perfectly adapted to the removal of suffering, the destruction of unbelief, and the awakening of faith in those with whom he is associated, as were the most imperial works of the Son of God upon earth. "The works that I do shall he do also." If we cannot do works upon which the miracle glory rests, we can do works upon which there rests a glory that in Christ's view outshines and eclipses that of miracle, so that even" that which was made glorious had no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth."

II. The text contains a CONTRAST. There is to be a splendid advance in the character of the believer's achievements, an advance that will make them transcend even the Lord's own personal works amongst men. "Greater works than these shall he do." Christ had always thought more of the moral elements and relations in His works and those of His disciples, than of the merely miraculous. The time Christ spent in teaching men was enormous, compared with the time spent in healing disease. A second sufficed to touch a leper with His restoring hand: it sometimes cost Him days to do the yet greater work of touching a polluted soul with heavenly light. In the Acts of the Apostles we find the space occupied by narrating the work of miracle small, and that occupied by the work of conviction increasingly large, in comparison with the relative spaces they fill in the synoptical gospels. The apostles were beginning to enter into Christ's estimate of the relative value of the two types of work. The physical conditions that constituted Christ's works miraculous are often realized in connection with spiritual work upon a much more commanding scale. Did some of Christ's works, such as turning the water into wine and feeding the multitudes, imply mastery over creative processes? Whilst fruitful seasons and food and gladness are given by the loving Father to good and evil alike, I have no doubt, the cry of the scientists notwithstanding, they are given in conspicuous degrees to the piety and prayers of God's people. And not to speak of the supernatural influence of Christianity, how much of the wealth of the world is due to the thrift and righteousness growing up out of its conversions! Take away its presence from the earth, and nations that now overflow with luxury would be represented by groups of scattered savages gnawing roots and uncooked carrion. It is Christianity that is feeding the nations. By its uplifted hands of righteousness and prayer it is multiplying bread for thousands in comparison with whom the crowds Christ fed were but as units. And is not this a greater thing than the miracle on the tableland of Bethsaida or the plain of Gennesaret? Did the largest group of Christ's miracles imply command over disease and death? How much has that active sympathy, which is the outcome of faith in Christ, done to limit the ravages of disease and add to the length of human life? The evils turned back by the conversion of those present in thousands of Christian congregations are as ghastly and as terrible and manifold as the evils that shrank before Christ's word in the days of His flesh. For Christian faith and love to put healing hands upon human sickness and infirmity, to prevent in incalculable degrees human pain, to add year by year to the length of human life in all quarters of the globe, is it not a greater work than Christ's comparatively circumscribed work of healing the sick and raising the dead when upon earth? The spiritual works effected by believers in Jesus Christ bring about that conviction which is the great end of miracle by more effective methods. In miracle the work of the Spirit came before the eye. Miracle left the man more or less the victim of his own prejudice, unbelief, self-will. Miracle was only occasional in its appeal. The demonstration of the Spirit in the heart of man was a power that outlasted the believing prayers and labours to which its first coming was a response. If our faith reach up to the full evangelical altitude, we may do by the instantaneous help of the Spirit what it cost Christ years full of pains and sighs and toils to accomplish. Our work transcends miracle because the spirit, which is the special sphere touched by it, is more delicately sensitive than the body, which is the sphere in which miracle was wrought. The unseen part of a man's nature has capabilities of enjoyment or suffering which are indefinitely in advance of the part of his nature represented by the senses; the work of saving and tranquillising it must be indefinitely higher in both process and result. In comparison with the agony of a wounded spirit, physical suffering is a mere pin prick. To impart health by miracle to a diseased frame is a work unspeakably inferior to that of ministering salvation to diseased souls, plucking out rooted sins from the memory in which they rankle, and freeing the conscience from the haunting sense of eternal wrath. The spiritual works it is the believer's high privilege to do outshine Christ's personal miracles, because spiritual work is the key to the final destruction of all physical evil and disability at the last day. In spiritual miracle, the sentence is pronounced that shall then be carried out, and evil is virtually dead for the man whose nature has been touched by the works we do through our believing fellowship with Christ. The miracle was only respite. "Lo! disease and death come back to undo the triumph of the vanished wonder worker." By the power I wield as a believer in Jesus Christ I work irreversible miracles. I dismiss disease and death into a realm from whence they can never return. The inward miracle of regeneration is the mainspring of that climatic miracle which sums up all other acts of healing power, when sickness and sorrow and sighing shall be swept forever away. This is the true virtue radiated from the ascended Saviour, imparted freely to all His disciples, and perpetually reflected from every quickened Church in fellowship with its Lord. It pulsates unseen in our midst lust now, but a few transient breaths must come and go before it can be seen that the flush of immortal health has been restored to the universe.

III. The text points out THE SECRET OF THIS CONTRAST between Christ's works and those of His favoured followers. The secret has a Divine and a human side. Christ's presence at the right hand of the Father is the pledge and sign that sin has been dealt with, man's unfitness to receive these high and holy gifts has been taken away, the burden which crushed human nature into impotence removed, and the Father's hand opened to His reconciled people in more than its ancient wealth of blessing. This secret of transcendent power has an earthly as well as a heavenly side. "And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do." Some of the natural forces of the universe can only be manifested through the special elements and agencies that are adapted to transmit them. Electricity must have a pathway of susceptible matter over which to travel, even if that pathway be one of indefinitely minute particles of ether only. So with the spiritual forces of the universe. If the power of the mediatorial presence have no conducting lines of faith along which to travel, it must sleep forever, and the world be left to swing on in its old grooves of evil and death. The manifestation of all the energies of that presence can only come through the believing request of the disciples. Prayer, bound only by the holy instincts of the faith that inspires it, and the rights of the name in which it is presented, is a thing of illimitable power. Let us never forget the dignity and beneficence of all spiritual work. This promise suggests the plenary character of the Pentecostal endowment.

(T. G. Selby.)

Because I go unto My Father.

I. COMPLETING MY WORK IN THE FLESH.

II. ACCEPTING MY PLACE AT THE THRONE.

III. BEQUEATHING MY WORK TO THE CHURCH.

IV. ENDURING MY SAINTS WITH THE SPIRIT.

(S. S. Times.)

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